Even as other areas of the economy strengthen, Tampa Bay home values continue to fall.
Home values have decreased 9.1 percent in the past year to an average of $115,700, according to a report released today by housing tracker Zillow.com.
It was the third straight quarter in which the numbers declined.
The area recorded the seventh biggest drop in the country. Nationally, home values fell 4.3 percent.
Other Florida regions fell further. Miami-Fort Lauderdale fell 15.2 percent, while Orlando slumped 11.9 percent, Zillow reported.
This region remains one of the worst in the country.
Overall, Tampa Bay home values have dropped 46.3 percent from their peak in May 2006 and mirror values from September 2002, Zillow said.
Although the number of homeowners carrying negative equity decreased slightly to 46.8 percent, the area ranks fourth among the 25 largest regions. It trails Phoenix (68.4 percent), Riverside, Calif. (48.1 percent) and Orlando (64.2 percent).
A University of Central Florida economist said the Zillow data appear to be consistent with trends in the rest of the state and show that declining values are slowing.
"It's suggesting that we are very near the bottom, but it doesn't mean prices will go up," Sean Snaith said.
Home values in the United States have declined for 17 consecutive quarters and won't rebound quickly, said Stan Humphries, chief economist for the real estate tracker.
"While not unexpected, the unceasing declines in home values signal that we're in for a long, bleak winter of continued troubles for the housing market," he said in the report. "The length and depth of the current housing recession is rivaling the Great Depression's real estate downturn, and, with encouraging signs fading, will easily eclipse it in the coming months."
Zillow bases its figures on the median value of all homes in a metro area and does not include foreclosures or sales figures because it would drive the numbers down, a spokeswoman said.
Craig Beggins, owner of Century 21 Beggins Enterprises in Apollo Beach, discounts the estimate's meaning for home prices because it is based upon median averages, rather than sales. His agents are selling more than 100 homes each month priced between $80,000 and $140,000.
He acknowledged that the price of the homes he now sells average $165,000, a 50 percent drop from 2005. But he said that's because higher-end homes are taking longer to sell.
"You can say cheaper homes are selling," he said. "The robustness of the market is at the lower end."
Mark Puente can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8459.